Thursday, October 2, 2014

Felicitous Language in All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

What draws me onward when I begin a book? Sometimes it’s a touch of wry humor when I least expected to encounter it. Now and then, a character deftly drawn and sharply chiseled compels me to learn more. Often, it’s how the writer conducts the music of language. Consider this brief, early chapter in Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See

From “The Bombers” (Doerr, Anthony. "The Bombers." All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel. EBook ed. New York: Scribner, 2014. 22. Print.)

“…The sea glides along far below, spattered with the countless chevrons of whitecaps. . . .Deliberately, almost lazily, the bombers shed altitude. Threads of red light ascend from anti-air emplacements up and down the coast. Dark, ruined ships appear, scuttled or destroyed, one with its bow shorn away, a second flickering as it burns. . . . To the bombadiers, the walled city on its granite headland, drawing ever closer, looks like an unholy tooth, something black and dangerous, a final abscess to be lanced away.”

How could I refuse to read on? How could I not pause to savor the excellent use of rhetoric breathing life into nonhuman form?

The sea glides. Threads of light ascend. The walled city draws closer, resembling an abscess in need of a surgical strike.

Reading Challenge:

Read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

Writing Challenge:


Transform (arguably) inanimate objects, animating them and giving them character as Doerr does.